Best BCD:

Top Rated and Reviewed Scuba Diving
Buoyancy Compensators

Choosing the best bcd isn't easy. There are lots of scuba diving buoyancy compensators out there and what works best for you depends alot on personal preferences and/or budget.

Do you want a weight integrated buoyancy compensator? Do you want a jacket style or wing style BC? What price can you afford? Do you need a travel bcd or one made especially for females?

Scuba diving buoyancy compensato

Of course, we all know there is no "one fits all".

Nevertheless, I have chosen what I consider to be the best scuba diving BCD's at various price points - entry level or budget, mid range and high end - as well as ones specifically for women and the more technical divers.

To this end, I have read many ratings and reviews of various scuba diving BC's. I have only chosen those models which have received many top reviews from lots of different users. My reasoning is if it has universal good marks, chances are you will be happy with it too.

(If you need more general information on BC's, see our free Scuba Diving BC Buying Guide .)

Some top rated BC's from last year's picks fell off the list while a few still made the cut. My goal is to update this list about every 6-12 months or so, so you can rest assured you are getting the best bcd available right now.

This list was updated in November 2015.

So if you are planning on doing some diving in the 2015-2016 season and need a bc, this list is for you.

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Here are my updated picks of the best BCD's - from entry level to midrange to top of the line to female specific to travel (recommendations will open in a new window on our partner's website).

Categories for best BCD are determined by price as listed below.

To jump to the category you are interested in, just click on the link:

High End/Top End BC's ($500+)

Mid-range BC's ($300-$500+)

Entry Level/Budget BC's (Under $300)

BC's for Females

Travel BCD's


Best BCD: High End/Top End ($500+)


If money is no object, why not go for it?

Our first two picks for the best high end bc still remain the perennial favorites. They continued to garner great reviews from new users throughout the year, cementing their place as our top pick.

Both picks for best bcd are Zeagle models and this manufacturer once again routinely gets high marks for its products.

Choice #1:

First up is a Zeagle model. It gets great reviews from lots of divers with an average rating of 4.9 out of a possible 5. Very few users had anything negative to say about this BC.

They keep on adding features to this BC so a great BC becomes even better.

This model has heavy duty construction and is a weight integrated BC. The standard bladder that comes with the BC has a 44 lb. lift capacity.

However, it is a very versatile model and is compatible with a variety of other bladders and accessories.

It is also equipped with what they call a Personal Fit System (PFS) Modular Sizing. This allows you to change out specific sections of the BC for a more custom fit. But without a custom fit price (granted it is still not cheap!)

You are also able to adjust the harness to fit your body so you shouldn't have that restricted movement you feel on some BC's in the chest/underarm area.

Best BCD high end - Zeagle model

The Zeagle model also has 2 zippered utility pockets, 4 stainless D-rings on shoulder and 2 on the vest, a 30 lb. capacity ripcord weight system with a 20 lb. capacity rear trim weight system.

With all these attachment points it is very easy to store any accessories you may have and the adjustable weight system makes it easy to control your buoyancy and trim.

It is a bit different than many other standard BC's in that it has rear flotation. If you haven't used a rear flotation BC before, it may take a dive or two to get used to its action on the surface (basically you will have to lean back more and/or inflate less on the surface; the rear trim weight system can also help with this problem).

After reading through countless reviews posted about this BC, I have compiled a list of the pros and cons of this best BCD choice to help in your decision:

Pros:

  • Built well; high quality BC rugged and durable
  • Full cut - very comfortable to wear
  • Mutiple D rings and good storage options
  • Adjustable cumberbund
  • Modular construction so you can adjust features for many types of diving
  • Excellent trim and buoyancy control due to front/back weight system and multiple dump valves
  • Distributes weight well

Cons:

  • A couple reviews stated air got trapped in BC (inflator hose/where bladders connect in back)
  • Style pushes you forward on surface (common to back inflation BC's; I addressed above)
  • Heavier model; harder to travel with

Choice #2:

Our second pick for best bcd in the top end category is once again the Zeagle Stiletto model. It garners a rating of 4.7 out of a possible 5.0. Not too shabby!

This model has made the top list several years running and it continues to perform well, getting many more good reviews throughout the year.

This also gets the nod as the best travel BC. This is one of Zeagle's more lightweight models and Zeagle calls it its most rugged travel BC. (See "Best BCD For Travel" section below for another pick for travel BC's).

Top rated buoyancy compensator hig end - another Zeagle model

However, based on all the great reviews, it still lives up to Zeagle's reputation for high-quality BC's.

As far as its' features, it has 24 lb. capacity ripcord weight system and a 20 lb. capacity rear mount weight system, a 35 lb. lift capacity and 5 stainless D-rings (3 on vest, 2 on shoulder).

From my review of this BC, it is basically a stripped down version of the Zeagle model chosen above. It has similar features but is toned down, has a little less lift capacity (but still more than sufficient for your average rec dive) and made more lightweight.

The list of pros and cons from this model are:

Pros:

  • Durable and well built
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Adjustable and fits alot of body types
  • Quick disconnect inflator control makes it easy to rinse out BC
  • Excellent balance and buoyancy control with rear weight option
  • Lightweight and good for travel

Cons:

  • Pockets could be bigger
  • One person said it did not fit well and constantly rode up his body
  • Could use more padding (2 spots mentioned were 1) back and 2) shoulder straps while out of water)

Choice #3:

This is a new entrant in this category for best bcd. Our third pick for best high end BC is a Sherwood model.

This model earned a solid rating of 4.4 out of a possible 5.0.

And this model is at the very bottom of the price range for this category which is a nice bonus!

Best BCD high end - Sherwood model (#3)

Features of this best BCD include a updated weight release system which makes it easier to work with the pockets than the previous versions of this BC.

There are 3 dump valves to further help you with your trim and buoyancy. The lift capacity of this BC also varies according to the size of the BC - ranging from a 20 lb. lift capacity for an XS to a 36 lb. lift capacity for a 3XL.

The amount of releasable weight also varies depending on the size - ranging from 16 lbs.  for the lowest to 26 lbs. for the highest. All sizes can accommodate up to 10 lbs. of non-releasable weight.

There are plenty of places to store your accessories including 6 stainless steel D rings and 2 zippered pockets and 1 velcro pocket.

Our list of pros and cons after combing through many reviews online are::

Pros:

  • Durable and rugged
  • Ability for multiple adjustments make for a very comfortable fit
  • Ample room to clip gear
  • Lots of lift and pocket space
  • Fits large sized men well; no premium on price for larger sizes
  • 2 tank straps make tank secure

Cons:

  • Pocket pulls can be difficult to reach and unzip during a dive
  • One person thought the integrated weights could be difficult to release in emergency
  • Two people had the power inflator free flow

Best BCD: Mid-Range ($300-$500)


We have all new picks for best bcd in this category this year - which I believe is a first if my memory serves me correctly.

While the price is lower than the previous category there are still some very good BC's available at this price point that don't sacrifice on features.

Choice #1:

Our top pick for this category is a new entrant and is a Cressi model.

This best BCD pick gets an average rating of 4.8 out of 5.

Best BCD - Cressi model mid range

A feature of this jacket is that it is a back inflation wing model. This gives the diver more freedom of movement while still having plenty of lift.

In fact, this model offers the most lift of any Cressi model. Lift for the BC ranges from 29.2 lbs. up to 50.6 lbs., depending on the size of the BC.

As far as weights, the integrated weight system can hold up to 20 lbs, 10 lbs in each pocket with two rear non-releasable weight trim pockets.

This BCD also features 3 dump valves so it is easier to maintain trim and buoyancy control. 

As far as storage, this jacket contains 6 stainless steel D-rings and 2 zippered utility side pockets so you should have plenty of places for any accessories you bring along.
The pockets on this BC can be put away when not using so it will help in streamlining.

Our list of pros and cons after combing through many reviews online are:

Pros:

  • Plenty of lift
  • Super durable
  • Elastic restraints for air bags minimize drag
  • Gives a very streamlined profile
  • Good sized pockets

Cons:

  • Back inflation can be difficult to get used to, especially for newer divers
  • Some felt the pockets were small
  • Single (not double) tank strap

Choice #2:

Our next pick in the mid-range category for best bcd is another Aqualung model.

This model has garnered a rating of a solid 4.3 out of a possible 5.0.

Best BCD - An Aqualung model

Reviewers sing the praises of the WRAPTURE harness system on this BC. This system hugs the body and gives great support and stability while being extremely comfortable according to reviewers.

This BCD also features a weight integrated system with 2 releasable weights ranging in capacity from 20 to 30 lbs. depending on the BC size. There are also releasable weights with a capacity of up to 10 lbs which should help with your trim and buoyancy.

Depending on the size of the BC, this model provides you with 27 to 48 lbs. of lift.

There are also 5 stainless steel D-rings and 1 plastic one to hold your gear.

Our list of pros and cons on this model:

Pros:

  • Sturdy and well built
  • Easy to operate weight system
  • Adjustable for a better fit
  • Comfortable with excellent padding
  • No cummerbund

Cons:

  • One reviewer had his bladder punctured; felt it was a design flaw

Best BCD: Beginner or Entry Level (Under $300)


Even if you don't want to shell out alot of money on a buoyancy compensator you can still find some nice BC's that do a perfectly fine job.

Choice #1:

Our first choice for best bcd in this category is a Zeagle model and is a new entrant and just squeaks in right under $300. Figures, right?

But this is a nice model and you get alot for your money. It earned a solid 4.3 rating out of a possible 5.

Best BCD Entry Level - a Zeagle model

This model is Zeagle's lightest and most compact model making it a good choice for travel also. However it is still rugged and gets good ratings for durability.

This Zeagle model has a back inflation system rather than the wrap around style.

This is not a weight integrated BC but it does have 2 weight pockets in the rear where you can place some weight if needed (16 lbs. maximum capacity). The majority of your weight would probably go on your weightbelt.

This model provides 24 lbs. of lift. If you need more than this you would be better off with a different model.

Given these aspects, this model is probably best suited for warm water diving.

This model has 1 relief valve and 4 stainless steel D-rings.

After reading through 30+ reviews, the pros and cons I come away with are:

Pros:

  • Comfortable, easy to adjust
  • Durable and well made
  • Lightweight, packs easily and good for traveling
  • Well balanced
  • Great product for price

Cons:

  • Not weight integrated
  • Pockets could be bigger and easier to reach
  • Probably not enough lift for cold water diving

Choice #2:

Our next choice for best bcd in the budget category is another new entrant this year. This Cressi model gets high ratings with a rating of 4.6 out of a possible 5.0.

Best buoyancy compensator - entry level - A Cressi model

This model is extremely durable - in fact, it is designed for the rental market. You know how rough that can be on equipment so it should have no problem holding up to the private user.

It has quick release weight pockets which would hold either soft or hard weights - up to 20 lbs. Some people didn't think they would like this style of weight pockets but users have been won over.

This BC provides 29.2 to 45 lbs of lift, depending on the size of the BC. This lift should be sufficient for most recreational diving conditions.

Cressi also designed this models with 3 dump valves. It does have 4 D-rings though they are made of plastic and not stainless steel.

This is a solid, well made BC and should stand up to many dives in varying conditions.

Our list of pros and cons include:

Pros:

  • Durable and well constructed
  • Large roomy pockets (velcro)
  • Comfortable and well padded
  • Well designed, everything easy to reach
  • Great value for the price

Cons:

  • Some didn't like gravity weight pockets; weight could become jammed in them
  • Large size marking on strap

Choice #3:

Our last pick for best bcd in the entry level/budget category is a return entrant for this year and is another Cressi model.

It is very similar to the Cressi model above in this category (the #2 pick) with the main difference being that it does not have weight integrated pockets.

This model has earned a rating of 4.7 out of a possible 5.0.

Best bcd - a Cressi model

It is the cheapest among the three in this category but this is still a strong and durable BCD jacket. This is due to the fact that, like the Cressi above, it was  also designed for use in rental facilities.

This comes with 3 over-pressure relief valves – one on each side of the shoulders and the other one on the right rear of the air cell. All of them can be dumped manually – two using pull cords while the other uses the power inflator mechanism.

Like the mode above, this BC provides 29.2 to 45 lbs of lift, depending on the size of the BC.

This BCD also comes with 4 plastic D-rings along with two large pockets with Velcro closures.

Unlike most of our other picks, however, this is not a weight integrated BC. You will have to use a good ol' fashioned weight belt with this model.

Here is my list of the product’s pros and cons of this BC:

Pros:

  • Very durable and well built
  • Comfortable with enough padding
  • Easily adjustable
  • Good pocket room
  • Inflator/dump valves large and easy to use
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Size displayed outside
  • Not weight integrated
  • Not alot of adjustability in waist area (1 reviewer)

Find out  more about this BC here.


Best BCD: Females


Women have special "considerations" that can make purchasing a BC a bit more complicated. There are BC's now made especially for females that are designed for a more comfortable fit. If you have tried more "male oriented" BC's and weren't happy with them, you might want to give these highly rated BC's for women a try.

Choice #1:

Our first pick as the best bcd for females is a repeat winner in this category and it is a Zeagle model.

This BCD for women has earned a high rating of 4.7 out of 5.

Best womens BC - A Zeagle model

As you can see from the picture, this has a zipper front which will give you a better fit and more "coverage" than the normal BC front. And it also comes in different colors and patterns - so you can do your own stylin' out there!

This BC is a back inflation model and also has twin straps which are fitted around your waist and hips independently. This Zeagle model uses a "Personal Fit System" whereas you can mix the vest, front panel and shoulder straps for the best fit for you. If you want to order different sizes of the "components" it would be best to call before you order.

It really is a flexible BC and ideally suited to fit a women's body type.

This BC offers 31 lbs. of lift and can hold up to 24 lbs. of releasable weight and non-releasable rear pockets that can hold up to 16 lbs.

This  model also has 2 dump valves and 4 stainless steel D rings.

The pros and cons for this pick for best bcd for women as I see it are:

Pros:

  • Easily adjusts to fit to your body
  • Twin waist and hip system for best fit
  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • "Front" coverage with a zippered front panel
  • Can mix and match components for best fit
  • Adaptable weight integration system

Cons:

  • One user questioned durability (some threads sticking out)
  • Back inflate pushes you forward on surface (a couple users)

Choice #2:

Our second choice for best bcd for females this year is a Scubapro model and it is a new entrant on the list. It gets great reviews and has earned a rating of 4.8 out of 5 to win a place on our list.

This BC is a jacket type configuration, unlike the back inflation of our #1 pick. Reviewers loved how it hugged their body and contoured to their shape.

It also has a padded backplate for added comfort.

Best BCD for Women - A Scubapro model

There are lots of places to store your gear with 2 zippered pockets and 6 (yes 6!) stainless steel D rings.

Depending on the size of the BC it provides from 22.5 to 42.7 lbs. of lift.

As far as weight goes, it can hold up to 20 lbs. in releasable weight and from 8 to 10 lbs. in non-releasable weight (depending on the size of the BC) in rear trim pockets.

The pros and cons for this women's BC:

Pros:

  • Adjustable for a very comfortable fit; padded backplate
  • Lots of clips to store accessories
  • Tank strap makes set up easy
  • Jacket style that hugs body for streamlined profile
  • Good for larger women
  • Easy to use integrated weight system

Cons:

  • Pockets a bit small (one user)
  • A bit on the bulky side

Choice #3:

Our third choice here is another new entrant and is another Scubapro model. This model received a solid 4.3 out of 5.0 rating.

Like our first pick, this is a back inflation BC and is cut specifically for a female. Reviewers found it easy to get used to after a couple of dives.

Users also loved the adjustable settings on the BC allowing for a nice, comfortable fit.

Best BCD for Women - A Scubapro model

This BC provides 33.7 lbs. of lift for all sizes - unlike the other ones with lift dependent on size of the BC.

Like the Scubapro model picked for #2, this BC can handle 20 lbs. of releasable weight and 8 to 10 lbs. of non-releasable weight depending on the size of the BC.

There is a little less storage with this BC than the other Scubapro model with 2 rolled up zipper pockets and 4 D stainless steel D rings.

I see the pros and cons of this BC as follows:

Pros:

  • Great fit
  • Comfortable, able to adjust to your contours
  • Streamlined, not bulky
  • Easy to set up

Cons:

  • Could use more storage
  • Buckles are too big

Find out more about this BC here.


Best BCD For Travel


With all the excess luggage fees on airlines these days, having a travel BC makes alot of sense. While they may be lightweight, they are still good all around BC's.

In fact, looking at the choices for travel BC's I was surprised to find my first 2 picks for best travel BC's were also picks in 2 of the previous categories.

My number one pick for a travel BC was my number two pick in the high end category above. And my number two pick for the best bcd for travel was my number 1 pick in the entry level category above. Got that?

Just goes to show that if you have a good BC, it will probably be the best all around in a number of categories.

Choice #1:

As we discussed above, our first pick for best travel BC is this Zeagle model  (this was our #2 pick in the high end category). This is an all around good BC and is light enough to win for travel BC.

Choice #2:

Again, as discussed above our second choice for best bcd for travel is this Zeagle model. (This was our #1 pick in the entry level category). Zeagle appears to have it all going on. I guess that happens when you make a good product and win rave reviews.

Choice #3:

For our number three choice, we have an new entrant and is not on any of the lists above. Our number 3 pick is a Scubapro model.

This BC earned a solid rating of 4.4 out of a possible 5.0.

This BC is a back inflation model and is designed to be lightweight for travel.

Best BC for Travel - Scubapro model

A question here is how  much lift do you get out of this lightweight model? While the specs list 56 lbs., I found this hard to believe. Doing more research, it appears that this model has 29.2 lbs of lift (from Scubapro's website) which should be more than sufficient for most rec divers.

So while the spec may be wrong on this aspect, I still believe it deserves a spot on our list.

This BC has 2 movable accessory pockets and plastic D-rings.

This is not a weight integrated BC so you have to use the good ol' weight belt here.

The pros and cons of this travel BC are:

Pros:

  • Very compact and lightweight, easy to pack
  • Durable and sturdy
  • Streamlined, low profile
  • Easy to adjust

Cons:

  • Not weight integrated
  • Needs more storage (2 reviewers)
  • Belt is short

Read more about this travel BC here.


I hope our picks for best BCD have helped you make a decision on which scuba bc to buy. There is alot out there but hopefully we narrowed the field for you.

Have fun shopping and let us know how you like your new BC!



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